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Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Ranking the Big 12's best players: No. 10

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

The official list of the Big 12's top 25 players is locked away in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we're revealing the list day by day here on the blog. Here's a refresher on my exact criteria.

We're inside the top 10 now, so things should heat up a little bit. Have a gripe with the list? We're chatting later today. I'm ready if you are.

Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden
Brandon Weeden passed for 4,277 yards and 34 touchdowns last season.
No. 10: Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State

2010 numbers: Weeden completed 342 of 511 passes for 4,277 yards, 34 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

Most recent ranking: Weeden was unranked in our preseason list of the Big 12's top 25 players.

Making the case for Weeden: Weeden's placement on my list is going to naturally draw comparison to the man just below him, Oklahoma's Landry Jones, and that's not on accident.

It's very, very close between the two, but in comparing last year's performance, I lean Weeden for one big reason, the same reason I gave Weeden my vote on the All-Big 12 first team.

The biggest difference for me is looking at what happened in both teams' losses. Oklahoma lost to Missouri in part because of a complete fourth-quarter meltdown, not helped by Jones' performance. He was 0-of-7 with an interception in the final 15 minutes of the nine-point loss, which Oklahoma led entering the fourth quarter. It wasn't the only reason the Sooners' suffered their first loss, but the numbers say enough.

He also threw a pick in the red zone earlier in the game that Missouri returned 58 yards. The loss to Texas A&M wasn't Jones' fault, but you can't get shut out in the first half of a Big 12 road game and expect to win. At the core, I think plenty of the blame there hangs on the quarterback's shoulders.

Oklahoma State, meanwhile, played pretty well on offense in both losses. Weeden especially. He made big throws to try and keep up with Nebraska's offense and hit 18 of 35 passes for 283 yards against the Huskers' elite secondary. Weeden's performance against Nebraska was surpassed only by Jones, who helped beat the Huskers in the Big 12 title game.

Both threw three interceptions in their head-to-head matchup, but one of Jones' went for a touchdown the other way. From my perspective, it seems like Jones is much more apt to make the back-breaking mistake, and even Oklahoma fans would probably agree with that.

Weeden has Jones beat on yards per attempt (8.37 vs. 7.65), but considering how often Jones throws bubble passes as an extension of Oklahoma's running game, his pass attempts are somewhat inflated and the difference in yards per attempt is negligible. Those swing passes and 106 more attempts also negate the 500 more yards Jones threw for than Weeden, which illustrates just how close these two really are. It's really a coin flip.

Both are basically equals when they're at their best, but if I'm picking a quarterback, I want consistency. Weeden best personifies that, and in one season, has established himself as the Big 12's best quarterback and the league's No. 10 player.

The rest of the list: